The evolution of online content has roughly echoed that of the media forms that proceeded it: only text at first, then individual images and audio, and finally full-fledged video (which combines thousands of image frames with audio). By that logic, we are now firmly in the age of online movies and television.
Many online marketers, however, are still stuck somewhere near the invention of the printing press. That's not meant to suggest that written content is no longer important; as in the offline world, people still prefer to have the most important and in-depth information written down. But ignoring online video in today's marketplace would be akin to pretending that television does not exist and has no influence on how people make decisions.
The Scope of Online Video
Exactly how popular is video content online? YouTube, which is the largest (though certainly not the only) source of video on the Internet, reports having 4 billion "hits" per day and over 4 billion hours of video watched each month. Do the math, and you'll find out that equates to more than 15,000 years of video content being consumed each day. And at 800 million monthly visitors, the average YouTube user is watching five hours of content on the site each month--not too shabby, considering most videos are only a few minutes long.
During peak video hours (the traditional evening "prime time" of television), video accounts for more than half of all data traffic online. And video traffic makes up more than half of all data used on mobile devices, regardless of the time of day.
All of these numbers, by the way, are projected to grow over the coming years.
What Video Content Can Do
So, people like to watch videos online. What does that mean for you?For starters, if you have no video presence at all, you are ignoring one significant channel that could be driving you traffic and sales. For example, if you think of YouTube as a search engine, it ranks as the second most popular search engine on the web. By ignoring it, you ensure that you will not appear in any of those search results. (And since YouTube is owned by the No. 1 search engine--Google--the lack of links back to your site can't be helpful to your SEO efforts.)
But video also allows you to be more effective in getting certain kinds of messages across. In particular, video can be useful for:
- Showing your personality. Whether you want to be seen as playful and easy-going, knowledgeable and professional, or anything in-between, video is the most effective way to develop your brand's personality.
- Talking with people. Quite literally, in fact, especially when using Google+ Hangouts.
- Demonstrations. Video can be very useful for "how-to" content, or for demonstrating your product or service (much like an in-home sales presentation).
- Going viral. Video is much more likely to achieve "viral" status.
- Advertising. For example, Google AdWords for video gives you the ability to reach a highly targeted audience with a television ad.
For purposes such as these, there is little question that video works. The real question is, are you making it work for you?
*Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net